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Sunday, January 19 2020 @ 05:04 am ACDT

NZ Girls No Match Yet for Aussie Girls

OceaniaThe International Cup held in Melbourne sadly lacked a NZ Women’s team but the NZ U 18 Kahu recently completed their two game series for the AFL International Youth Girls’ Cup against the Australian U 18 national side, The Breeze.

Though the results were totally one-sided it provided the Australian girls with a chance to represent their country and a way for the New Zealanders’ to benchmark their development.

The first game was played with a fiercely competitive spirit, with both teams playing their hearts out until the final hooter. The result was a large win to Australia, with the talent and class of their players evident throughout the game. At no stage though did the Kahu ease off on the pressure, and they made it clear to the Breeze that they were in a contest.

Kahu coach Lisa Roper heaped praise on both teams, saying she was fortunate to have been involved with female football and in a position see the rapid and heartening development of both the Australian and New Zealand players.

For the Kahu, the Schuster sisters were the standout players. Captain Hope Schuster was powerful with ball in hand, and younger sister Rosie was arguably the fastest and most committed player on the field for either team, regardless of being the youngest.

Returning players from 2013 Dayna Harris, Setareh Brown and Kayla Paniora showed their improvement in the intervening year, with Kayla Paniora especially solid at fullback.

Aleisha Taylor sparked glimpses of brilliance from the Kahu, with clever leads, impressive marks and clean distribution. Another International debutant, Jessie Parr, showed calmness under pressure and took good options.

The final score of 24.23 – 0.4 reflected the differences in experience of the two teams, however is a significant improvement for the Kahu on the scoreline recorded last year in the same fixture.

U18 NZ Kahus vs Austalian Breeze
0.4:4 – 24.23:167
Australia goalscorers: Hannah Davidson (6) Courtney Musico (3) Lily Mithen (3) Sarah Allen (3) Jade Ransfield (2) Emma Lynch (2) Shae Gundlach (2) Katherine Smith (2) Rachel Ortlepp, Erin O’Brien

Best on Ground Winners:
NZ Kahus: Hope Schuster and Rosie Schuster
Australian Breeze: Lily Mithen and Jessica Stramandinoli

The second game saw improvement for the Kahu, particularly in terms of game understanding and ball distribution. The match also saw the Kahu kick a goal, through a combination of persistence, skill and teamwork.

The performance of the Kahu was lauded by Head Coach Lisa Roper. “I thought our girls started to think like footballers. Not only that you played with pure sportsmanship, pure respect, and still went hard at the contest.”

The match itself was played in harsh conditions, with gale force winds coming off the Waitakere ranges and periodic bursts of rain.

Once again, the physicality and commitment at the loose ball was evident in the Kahu performance, with captain Hope Schuster leading the charge, making crunching tackles. Her opposite number Katherine Smith was another standout in this area, with tough tackling and clever shepherding.

The Kahu goal started with a run from Hope Schuster, followed by a kick into space for Aleisha Taylor to run onto. Taylor slipped past her tagger, and put the ball onto the boot for Tayla Cross, who marked safely. Tayla’s set shot used the wind perfectly, with the ball curving round the corner of the post into the goal.

Dayna Harris, who was a non-playing member in the 2013 squad, showed promising signs of development, winning a Best on Ground award after making a solid contribution in the first match.
With the series completed, the Australian Breeze will return home, where they will go on to leadership and development programmes to help build and grow Female AFL. The qualities required for such an undertaking were on full display in New Zealand, with the Breeze taking every opportunity to encourage, inspire and educate their fellow players from New Zealand.

For the Kahu, their next major event will be the Junior Hawks Cup competition, in which the Kahu will have the opportunity to play for or coach a school representative team. With the squad coming from many different schools, it is likely some teammates will find themselves facing off against each other.

The next representative matches for the Kahu will be against the U18 Woomeras in December. The Woomeras are Australia’s representative female Indigenous AFL team.

U18 New Zealand Kahus vs Australian Youth Girls
1.0:6 – 22.22:154
Australian Breeze: Mithen (4) R Ortlepp (3) Musico (2) Ransfield (2) Smith (2) Allan (2) Stramandinoli (2) Davidson (2) Lynch, O’Brien
NZ Kahus: Cross

Best on Ground Awards:
Australian Breeze: Shae Gundlach and Courtney Musico
NZ Kahus: Jessie Parr and Dayna Harris

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